Details On Brooklyn Bridge Park Housing

For the past five years, ever since the concept of using private development to help fund the ongoing operations of Brooklyn Bridge Park was floated, controversy has swirled. As Dennis Holt reports in The Brooklyn Eagle, the city agreed to revisit the idea, hiring a consultant to oversee the review. The process kicked off on Tuesday night with a public meeting at LICH. At that meeting the Memorandum of Understanding that governs the review process was made available, and it included some interesting details about the potential developments that we were not aware of. The biggest is that if housing is approved, the first site to get developed would be the John Street site (not Pier 1, which has gotten most of the attention); nothing could start there until July of next year. And here’s how big all four projects would be:
What do you make of that?

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  • cut the 31 story one down to 15 and have the city take responsibility for the pier maintenance as a capital expense.

    The one thing left out of the list of course is 360 Furman Street(one Brooklyn Bridge Park) that is bigger than than 3 of the others combined.

  • sometimes I see families on TV who have a house full of expensive things, but the mom and dad each work two jobs to pay for it all? and everyone is unhappy. and I think, wow, I would be making different choices here..

    BBP? I would be making different choices here…

  • I hope those buying in 1bklynbridge park know about this….especially those buying south end facing windows.

  • Pier 1 has gotten the most attention bcs it’s supposed to throw off over $5mm annually. And I think it’s 10 stories of hotel and 4 stories of residential. That could have changed.

    John street slated to throw off 855k annually. Not worth it imo.

    Including 1BBP and not including any residential for the hotel location, it’s over 1000 units. Who is on the hook for building the school for these kids. All zoned for PS8.

    I propose
    Pier 1 hotel only and reduced slightly to preserve view of BB from promenade (cutting proposed $5.2mm annually to 4mm),
    Pier 6a site reduced (cutting proposed 4.6mm to 2.5mm),
    1BBP (contributes $3mm),
    concessions, etc (they have empire stores at $1mm) and fundraising (1mm?)

    and have city take over pier maintenance. That actually gets them to where they want to be without cutting out the cricket pitch and other stuff that I would have cut in favor of lawn

  • And where is the city going to get the money to maintain the piers?

    Perhaps they could just lay off some more teachers, or reduce garbage pickup even more, or cut library hours again.

    Preserving views for rich people in Brooklyn Heights is more important than providing city services.

    $4 million a year may be a drop in the bucket when compared to the overall city budget, but it still has to come from somewhere.

  • Brownstoner – You need a correction in your article. There’s nothing in the MOU that says that John St comes before Pier 1. The fact is that the Pier 1 site (like the Empire Stores site) is not part of this “revisiting” process and can go forward whenever BBP wants it to. It is true that John St can go forward before the Pier 6 sites.

  • ‘cut the 31 story one down to 15 and have the city take responsibility for the pier maintenance as a capital expense’

    mtn. of piers not legally eligible for capital funds, have to funded as expense money
    impossible as deal to create park precludes city or state doing expenses NO MONEY from city or state expense budget is around they are cutting back more this winter and more next year

  • Why can’t we have tall buildings along the waterfront like Manhattan, Miami, Chicago and Vancouver? Or you know like Williamsburg and Queens.

    This is a prime waterfront location, not Park Slope. Lets build’em tall.

  • pete — I had the same thinking. A 31 story building! That’s fracking insane.

    At pier 6, which site is A and B?

    How exactly does the private development fund maintenance of a public park? Are the properties leased to a developer (like battery park city) and then those costs are folded into unit holders’ monthly fees? Or is it something else?

  • “cut the 31 story one down to 15 and have the city take responsibility for the pier maintenance as a capital expense.”

    Unbelievable statement, which demonstrates a complete lack of knowledge of the city’s budget process. Memo: maintenance is an operating expense, and is hence put into the city’s operating budget. As someone mentioned above, its operating budget is overwhelmed right now.

    Another article which demostrates the dysfunctional nature of getting big projects completed in NYC. Yes, let’s just review and review and review.

  • “And where is the city going to get the money to maintain the piers?”

    Bloomberg has indicated he may be willing to earmark the tax money that will come from the Witness buildings to the park when they are sold. It could come from there.

  • maybe he said that but: who knows when witnesses will sell and process of alternatives specifically precludes funds that would otherwise go to the city, which includes future properties outside park however, the mayor is the mayor
    but Committee is not allowed to consider it by terms of MOU that set it up

  • I’m happy that the Millman camp is pushing Bloomberg on this option. I keep hearing the BBP camp saying, “we can’t even consider that”. I’m glad someone is considering it.

    The tax roll from the Witness buildings is estimated to be in excess of 15mm (per Squadron’s office). They don’t need to sell all of it in the next 3 years to get the park there. They don’t need to sell a third of it.

  • As someone who might someday like to live in one of these apartments, I say ‘Build em tall’!

    These buildings are not out of context. In some cases, they’ll even shield the park from BQE views and noise. Not all apartments will be luxury — the 1BBP BQE side ones are substantially more affordable than the other side.

    Finally, Brooklyn Heights has some of the best subway access on earth, but the idiotic height limit has reduced density over the past 50 years. Time to encourage development where it fits, not 45 minutes away from the city.

  • Reality check: the city has cut the capital budget by 20%. Workers are being laid off. Parks and library budgets are being cut. The notion that City will assume additional capital or operating budget responsibility for a project with a built-in funding mechanism is a fantasy.

    The City and State have signed a MOU which explicitly addresses the issues of capital and maintenance responsibility. This document recognizes reality and once again and confirms the self-sustaining mandate that has been in place for many years.

    More reality: The public process approving the park plan has been completed and lawsuits seeking to overturn it have been dismissed. The current exercise is a political accomodation to local elected officials, extracted as a result of the transfer of the project to City control.

    Sadly, it allows Squadron, Millman and Levin to assuage the Working Families Party, the “Defense Fund” et al, in a most hypocritical manner. The electeds know very well that there are no viable alternative revenue sources, and that the PERC idea is DOA. Kudos to BP Markowitz for not joining in the charade.

  • mole — How has the height limit in Brooklyn Heights reduced density? I could see how it froze density, but I doubt there has been a substantialy reduction in density.

    (Unless you mean that there has been a signficant reduction of occupants per habitable apt or house — but that is less to do with density and more to do with affluence, I would think.)

  • Skyscrapers were built on the edge of Brooklyn Heights in the 1930’s around Borough Hall, but tall buildings are not permitted in the 21st Century. Block the BQE with tall buildings. They will be an improvement.

  • Also, 31 stories at pier 6 is way out of context. There’s not another 31 story building for at least a half-mile. If you want to argue we should re-zone the entire waterfront to allow skyscrapers, go ahead and make that argument but a building 3 times as tall as the one next to it with no other buildings around is simply not contextual.

  • Is the John St. site in Vinegar Hill? That seems like a good location to go tall. The Furman St. site seems ill-conceived. Maybe it’s just a red herring to get people to accept those other sites.

  • Ringo – When did Bloomberg say he would consider the Watchtower option. I’ve never seen that. Please post a link to that story.

  • Boreum-

    There is no context because there were docks and empty lots here before it was turned into a park. This is not Park Slope or Pineapple Street in Brooklyn Heights.

    Frankly, wasn’t the park “out of context” from what was there before?

  • I would not call 31 stories high “contextual” at Pier 6, but the area has been a no-mans-land of warehouses, empty lots, industrial facilities, freeways, and other infrastructure for generations, so I don’t see any issues with putting one up.

    If being contextual was a requirement for building, New York would be a bunch of isolated farm houses.

  • the proposal to build a ten-story hotel near Old Fulton Street and two slender high-rises near Atlantic Avenue is extremely sensible. Let’s just do it and ignore the folks who are frightened by buildings taller than four stories.
    It’s all good, let’s get on with it.

  • Why does everything have to be a freaking mega structure on it???

    Isn’t our city crowded enough already.

    I don’t think we need any more housing along our waterfront here in Brooklyn…

  • 735 units! Jaysus that’s a lot of inventory.

    Brooklyn Bridge Park is going to be furking awesome!

    ***Bid half off peak comps***

  • Actually there were/are a number of buildings, including the 11 story one next door to Pier 6 at 360 Furman (aka 1BBP).

    I am also hardly frightened by a tall building, but I think that there should be signifcant public discussion before turning an area that is otherwise bereft of transportation options into a skyscraper district.

  • Star G-

    No one is suggesting a mega structure, just standard urban buildings. There is virtually no population density around the park so by building around the park the City would be alleviating the crowding elsewhere in the City. I assume you would want to bulldoze all those “mega structures” around Central Park, Riverside Park and Gramercy Park.

  • Grand Pa;

    Well said. To add to it: one of the iconic images of New York is the line-up of apartment buildings on 5th Ave or CPW, and their contrast with Central Park. Think of how many movies have overhead shots of the park and the line-up of 5th Ave buildings(Woodie Allen’s “Manhattan” and “Naked City” come to my mind right away). We used to celebrate such urbanity. Now we have the NIMBY/”Community input”/preserve-everything crowd who drag out any large development in this town, killing many of them. Yesterday it was the story of how the Domino’s project has been five years in planning, and lawsuits are still going on. Today it’s a RE-review of a park development plan.

    I’ll repeat my mantra again: this town needs a latter-day Robert Moses to put a stop to this nonsense.

  • There is absolutely no reason to oppose new residential buildings on the proposed site except NYMBY-ism. They will not block anyone’s views, they will contain their own garages, they will not entail the demolition of any historic resource, they will help separate the park from the highway, there is no reason to be afraid of them except for the irrational phobia of “new people” or “more people” -an argument more apropos in sleepy little villages in the country than in one of the largest cities on earth.

    I has spoken!

  • benson, you’re an architectural nincompoop.
    We do not need a new Robert Moses or a Putin or a Mao or any other authoritarian strongman of your liking. The democratic process works by slowing down ill-conceived and damaging proposals.
    The price we pay as a society is time, but it is well worth the price. This park has been improved by the public process and will continue to be so improved as work progresses.
    Thank goodness that strong, independent New Yorkers finally stood up to the megamaniacal Moses before he destroyed the entire city.
    You write the dumbest things sometimes.

  • Minard;


    I guess it’s fun to compare Robert Moses to Mao. I suppose it gives one a sense of moral virtue. As an argument, Minard, it’s weak, as is your name-calling.

    Where do I argue against a public review process? I am arguing against those who ABUSE this process to advance their NIMBY/anti-development agenda.

    Finally, history shows that many of Moses’ proposed projects were stopped or altered by the democratic process. A quick list would include: the cross-downtown Manhattan expressway, the cross-Midtown expressway and the Washington Square development. History also records that Riverside Park and the Henry Hudson Parkway were built in under three years, and under budget (by Robert Moses).

  • Bring on the luxury housing! And I agree with the thought of needing a modern day Moses to change some things in this town! We should preserve some of our history, but refusing to ever move forward strangles progress and hurts everyone in the end.

  • What about naming rights as a source of annual revenue? Is it being considered? What did Barclays pay at AY, something like $400M over 20 years? Must be at least half a million workers in lower Manhattan looking at the Brooklyn Bridge Park waterfront everyday. I like the idea of making that screen thing (just a proposal I believe) that would cover the BQE the worlds largest electronic billboard. Cha-ching!

  • Can I just say I’m pretty thrilled to have these new mini-parks and all my out-of-town friends and family have been very impressed. NYC lags so far behind other major world cities in terms of redeveloping the waterfront for recreation. So while I admit I’m not an expert on this project and appreciate that there may be troubling aspects that need to be resolved, overall I am happy to see private funding support public access.

  • Nothing is being held up by the public review process.

    I take exception that people who aren’t 100% behind 100% of this building is a NIMBY-type or anti-development. I live in this neighborhood, and were all this to happen, as I’m sure it will, this is good for me. Sure, inventory will be flooded for a while, but eventually this neighborhood will be in a much better position — cool people, cool shops — real state values will rise.

    My questions are simple:
    -Have we explored all the options?
    -Can we see renderings of this? The John St building in particular.
    -Are we getting the best deal possible (conventional wisdom is that the ball was dropped on the 1bbp deal). Less than 900k a year for that John St site seems very low. That site is incredible
    -Where are these kids going to go to school? It’s 1000 units. You can argue that the city doesn’t have money, but you have to pull that thread all the way.. how much to build the classrooms for these kids? Etc.. etc.

    I dont have a link for the Witness tax idea. Not sure it’s been floated publicly or not.

  • I was not around then, but I assume options were explored then the current agreement was created 5+ years ago.
    It seems to me that the real time to explore options was before an agreement was signed.

    There are no renderings because the companies that will develop the buildings have not been chosen yet.

    I don’t know the details of the 1bbp deal, but overall residential development is the most profitable use of the the land, and therefore the bids should be higher than other uses.
    I do think that the public should continue to watch the development selection carefully to make sure there are no “sweetheart” deals going on.

    In terms of schools, the average ratio of households with children to total households in this area of Brooklyn seems to be 1 to 3.
    Assuming 1 public school child per household (households with multiple kids balanced by some with younger kids and ones going to private schools), that would be around 300 kids total.

    I know there are elementary schools in the greater area with excess physical capacity, so the total impact to schools would be around a dozen new teachers, ramping up over the 5-10 years it will take these buildings to be built and filled.

    Given the current budget state of the city, I would love to see the Watchtower properties get redeveloped and have that tax money go into the city’s general fund.

  • BHS, they do renderings just based on size of proposed buildings. the buildings are usually just big gray boxes.

    I’ve saw the renderings made by people who were against these buildings some years ago, but they felt skewed. would love to see official renderings.

    What schools do you think they’d go to? They’re zoned for PS8. Same as the Witness bldgs btw.

  • Robert Moses was brilliant and egomaniacal. It’s great to point out his big projects and talk about how much he accomplished- but had he not been stopped, he would have been destructive, not visionary. As it was, he destroyed neighborhoods, and lives in the process. I appreciate a lot of things about Robert Moses but his ego, his lack of caring about the effects of his building- not so much. No one should have the power he was given- he used it and he abused it.

  • Ah, usually don’t think of the gray blocks as renderings. It would be interesting to see some. I’m surprised none of the opponents have done any yet, like those that have been going around of Atlantic Yards.

    For Pier 6, PS 261 is just about as close as PS 8, and I believe it has extra capacity. If not, PS 38 a few blocks down Pacific has plenty to spare, so some incoming students could be moved from 261 to 38, freeing up seats at 261.

    On the John Street site, PS 287 is just about as close as PS 8, and it has ton of empty spaces.

    School boundaries are not set in stone, and can be shifted to keep down overcrowding.
    The issue is that many well-off parents would rather send their kids to on overcrowded “good” school rather than one that is “not good” (which often means too many minorities).

  • BHS… this is NYC; school boundaries are set in stone for the most part, and the current public schools surrounding BBP don’t have the capacity for the current population, even with expansions like PS8. Dumbo didn’t exist 15 years ago… the school cap hasn’t grown since then. And even though it needs to expand, it may not.

    As for “preserving views for rich people in Brooklyn Heights is more important than providing city services”… the Brooklyn Bridge Park (which has been in some form of plans for two decades) and Promenade are for everyone. It’s part of NYC, and about much more than that simple grievance.

    And Bxgrl… Spot-on about Moses.

  • the view plane from Brooklyn Heights IS land-marked. This is outside that land-marked view-plane(piers 1 and 6).

    I understand the difference between maintenance and capital payments. But the maintenance of the piers-including the pylons holding it up is a capital expense in most cases. The money the BBP is putting aside to maintain them will be a capital expenditure. Yes the City is hard up now but the piers won’t have to be redone for a while- they are putting the money aside now.

    and its Robert Moses fault the Dodgers are in LA(really)…

  • Does anyone seriously think that the two development sites at Pier 6; one on the south side of One Brooklyn Bridge Park and the other against Furman Street, will diminish anyone’s enjoyment of the Park whatsoever? Ok, so we build out yet some other play areas for kids on those sites with nannies in tow from Cobble Hill and call it a day? The kids will certainly grow up and be pissed at all of us when they have to foot the bill for the collapsing Park Piers- if they should care to live here.